Gangabal Lake Trek

Srinagar | India
  From  INR 8,150  | From 4 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Gangabal Lake Trek

Before we go on to the trek itinerary and the gear requirements, let's take a look at some of the information that will help you know about this trek.

The majestic lake and its twin:

Gangabal Lake is the biggest alpine lake amongst the 'Kashmir Great Lakes' and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Stretching for about 2.5 kilometers at an altitude of 3751 meters, this lake is situated in a place that abounds in flora and fauna. Nundkol is the twin lake located in the same valley and is fed by the Gangabal. The Gangabal Lake finally merges with the Sindh River via Wangath Nallah. 

Harmukh Peak:

The Gangabal Lake also presents a spectacular foreground set with Mt. Harmukh- the Eiger of Kashmir and the fourth highest peak in the valley. This astonishing high-elevation trek also presents an opportunity to continue to Mt. Harmukh (5380 meters) as the base camp is Naranag. Mt. Harmukh was the point from where Thomas Montgomery discovered the K1 and K2 mountains in 1865. 

Ethnic varieties:

Apart from the wonderful natural offerings like the alpine lakes on the trail, lofty mountains, flower-strewn meadows, and striking fauna, the trekkers are also greeted by the nomadic tribes of Gujjars and Bakarwals and get to experience their culture and traditions. These indigenous tribes of the Gangabal valley primarily dwell in the mud huts that you will find in and around the Trunkhol meadows. The panoramic view of the lofty mountains surrounding the lake from here is quite an experience. 

How difficult is the Gangabal Lake Trek?

The Gangabal Lake is the last and the largest amongst the great oligotrophic lakes found in Kashmir. Considered as an easy to moderate level trek, the Gangabal Lake Trek takes approximately 4 to 5 days to complete. The to and fro distance is close to 32 kilometers. The Gangabal Lake Trek has a well-graded trail without drastic ascents or descents. The trail has a uniform slope, and the altitude is close to 4000 meters. Although suited for beginners, intermediate, and pro trekkers alike, the altitude might pose challenges, and therefore suitable acclimatization is a must.

Best time to visit the Gangabal Lake Trek:

The Gangabal Lake Trek has become well known as a monsoon trek, although certain adventurers consider it an all-season trek.

Trekkers generally choose between June to November to embark on this trek. July to September is the best time, with the weather being pleasant along with minimal footfall. July is the hottest month, with average temperatures hovering around 22 degrees Celsius. However, precipitation starts in July, and the entire Gangabal valley turns into a vibrant shade of green with exotic floral blooms. Post-September, the rains stop, and the weather are clear for incredible snapshots.

Although several adventure enthusiasts worldwide prefer the winter season, for the alpine lakes along the trail are frozen, the beauty of the snow-covered meadows and the white mountains is ethereal. Apart from ideal fitness and proper conditioning, trekkers also need suitable gear and clothing to combat the sub-zero temperatures during the trek. 

Gear guide and checklist for the Gangabal Lake Trek:

You need to keep the following items handy if you want to set off on the Gangabal Lake Trek and complete it successfully. 

Clothing:

You need to pack sufficient clothing since the nights are freezing with sub-zero temperatures even in pre-monsoon or autumn. However, pack wisely and don't carry more than you need. Two full-sleeve t-shirts, a fleece t-shirt and a fleece jacket, a leather jacket, waterproof windcheaters, warm thermal inners for both the halves, a pair of synthetic trek pants, and a poncho would be ideal for you. Layered clothing keeps the cold away even during winters and can be shed during summers or when the temperature increases at noon. 

Headgears and other accessories:

You need to protect your head and face from the sun as well as from the cold that is enough to cause frostbites. Wearing a balaclava, neck gaiter, and a woolen cap will protect your facial region. Combine these with UV-protected sunglasses to shield your eyes from the glaring sun rays. 

Amongst the essential accessories, you should have a pair of woolen/fleece waterproof gloves. Carry a headlamp, newspapers, a 20-30 liter daypack, a 50-60 liter backpack, rain covers, a sturdy walking stick, water bottle, a first-aid kit, a personal medical kit with essential medicines, dry food supplies that give you instant energy like chocolate bars, nuts, etc. 

Footwear:

No matter how well-graded a trail is, trekking involves moving across rugged topography that is very different from plain land. Hence, you should always emphasize your footwear. Wear high-ankle, waterproof shoes with good grip while hiking. Carry a pair of flip-flops for use when you are resting at the campsite. You can take 2-3 pairs of cotton and woolen socks as they will keep your feet warm.

Toiletries and hygiene products:

You must carry a basic toiletry and hygiene kit. It should comprise sunscreen, moisturizer, lip balm, toilet paper, wet wipes, tissue paper, hand sanitizer, biodegradable soap, quick-dry towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste. 

Essential documents:

Always keep certain essential documents handy for intensive adventures. Carry your trekking permit along with a valid photo id, passport-size photographs, a medical certificate that declares your fitness, and multiple photocopies of all of them. 

Gangabal Lake Trek itinerary:

The brief itinerary of the Gangabal Lake Trek presented here will give you a clear idea of what the journey entails. 

  • Day 1: Arrive at Srinagar (1585 meters). You can spend the day sightseeing or rest at the hotel.
  • Day 2: Take a ride from Srinagar to reach the base camp at Naranag (2128 meters) in the Ganderbal district. The drive takes approximately two hours. You can have an acclimatization walk around the basecamp and visit the ruins of the Wangath temple built on the Naranag spring. It is among the most famous tourist attractions around this place. There are also several hamlets of nomadic tribes around the Naranag valley. You will stay overnight at the Naranag base camp. 
  • Day 3: Start from Naranag base camp for Trunkhol Meadow (3400 meters). A three-hour-long trek across a pine forest takes you to Butshree Top (3200 meters). After that, you trek further for a couple of hours to reach the serene campsite at Trunkhol-placed amidst sprawling greenery. The Trunkhol Meadow is picturesque, to say the least, and you will get a panoramic view of the thick pine forest around along with lofty mountains. Bakarwal settlements surround the campsite. 
  • Day 4: From Trunkhol, you need to start the day with a mild trek for four hours that takes you further into the Gangabal valley. At first, you will be greeted by the sight of the calm Nundkol Lake at the foot of Mt. Harmukh with its massive glaciers feeding the lakes. On the same day, you will trek further to reach Gangabal Lake (3751 meters) - the largest alpine lake in Kashmir. This great lake is also one of the biggest oligotrophic lakes in India. The lake abounds in trouts of varied colors, and you can engage in ankling or fly fishing activities. You will also be able to see the summit route of Harmukh Peak on this day. Apart from these, you can take a short walk and visit the nearby Kolesar Lake. Camp overnight at the Gangabal valley.
  • Day 5: Start the day with a six-hour trek that takes you from Gangabal valley to the meadows of Trunkhol. Finally, you descend to the Naranag village after crossing the pine forests of Bodpathri. Take a drive from Naranag to return to Srinagar. 

Getting fit for the Gangabal Lake Trek:

Since the Gangabal Lake Trek is an easy to moderate-level trek, the fitness requirements are not too demanding. 

Physical fitness:

You need to have a basic level of physical fitness and cardiovascular endurance to complete the trek successfully without burdening your team members. Since some days you need to trek for nearly four to five hours, you should have a balanced training regimen for 2 to 3 months before the trek that combines walking, running, swimming, cycling, and other cardiovascular exercises. You can target more intensive workouts as you progress with your training.

Mental fortitude:

From long trekking hours to harsh climatic conditions, every Himalayan trek involves certain challenges. Along with these, there could be unforeseen dangers or the scare of AMS. Therefore, you should have the mental resilience to brave these conditions and complete the trek in the face of adversities. Practice yoga, meditation, and other restorative techniques to strengthen your resolve and be clear-headed that lets you make fast decisions even when you are troubled. Practice motivating yourself with the picture of the great rewards that the trek will offer you once completed successfully.